Jennie Loitman Barron
by Seymour "Sy" Brody
Jennie Loitman Barron's stamina and zeal helped her achieve success in most of her undertakings: mother, judge, lawyer, suffragist and community leader.
She was born October 13, 1891, in Boston's West End to Fannie and Morris Loitman, who were Russian- Jewish immigrants. Jennie's mother was an outstanding woman. She knew five languages and soon her home became a meeting place for new immigrants who needed an interpreter.
Her father was very active in the Jewish community and became a charter member of the Hebrew Progressive Lodge. Jennie's father was very proud of her and would take her to meetings to recite poetry to his friends.
Jennie was the third of four daughters of the Loitmans. She earned at Boston University her A.B., 1911; LL.B., 1913; and her LL.M., 1914. She was able to work her way through school by teaching Americanization classes and working in the Women's Educational and Industrial Union's Department of Law. She was also involved in Boston University's League for Equal Suffrage. She spoke and lectured for equal rights for women at many meetings sponsored by this group.
She married Samuel Barron, Jr., a distant relative who had graduated Harvard Law School on June 23, 1918. They organized a husband and wife law firm, Barron and Barron. They had three daughters: Erma in 1919, Deborah in 1923, and Joy in 1931.
The family was a very important part of her life throughout her career. Friday night dinner at her home to begin the Sabbath was an ongoing ritual for her and her children. This was part of their Jewish tradition and culture.
She became president of the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers and organized a successful campaign for women to become notaries in 1918. She became involved in many campaigns relating to women. She organized women to exercise their newly won right to vote, to have uniform laws on marriage and divorce and the right to serve on juries.
In 1934, she was appointed by the governor as a special justice of the Western Norfolk District Court. This was to be the beginning of a thirty-year career as a judge. In 1937, she was named to be an associate of the Boston Municipal Court and she remained until 1959. She then became an associate of the Massachusetts Superior Court and the first woman to hold this position.
During her thirty years as a judge, Barron found time to be active in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. She was the first president of the Women's Auxiliary of Beth Israel Hospital, 1926-29; she served on the first board of Brandeis University National Women's Committee, 1945-55; first president of the New England Women's Division of the American Jewish Congress; and she was on the national boards of Hadassah and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
A week after their fiftieth wedding anniversary in June 1968, Samuel Barron died and Jennie died within a year from a heart attack on March 28, 1969.
Jennie Loitman Barron was one of the early pioneers to struggle for women's rights in society. Perhaps, if you had asked her what was her greatest achievement? She would have replied, "Mother of the Year Award, in 1959."
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
Source: Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America.